Friday, July 1, 2011

Home and Away by David and Nancy French

 David was a thirty-seven year old Harvard Law School graduate and president of a successful nonprofit in Philadelphia. David felt he needed to join the U. S. Army Reserves. He consulted his wife who prayed. When she tearfully agreed, he joined, then volunteered for Iraq. This is their story and that of those around them, both at home and away.
Nancy shares how David's desire changed their lives, the picture perfect family life she was creating.
Through chapters alternating in viewpoints, the couple describe David being accepted into the JAG Corps then deployment with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment and life at home. Nancy was shocked to find out that life went on. Their church supported her. She bought a dog. She decided to take control of their finances. The car broke down. She campaigned for Romney (in a southern redneck state).
David's responsibility included reviewing soldier's request for emergency leave, to determine if it was a legal crisis. He was also consulted on rules of engagement. This was not dry legal theory but rules upon which human lives depended. He helped soldiers write the statements on detainees and gave preliminary legal opinion regarding the lawfulness of the detention itself. David went on several missions and his personal accounts are insightful as to the way the war was waged and how the soldiers handled their responsibilities. His stories are encouraging. The soldiers there really want to help the local people.
Some of his stories are painful, such as the death of a sergeant in his unit, killed in action. And then four more. Then the total went to eight. Every death was investigated, reviewing the site, taking pictures. (Be aware, some of his descriptions of bodies are gruesome...but then, so is war.)
They include humorous times. Nancy is a pro at the humor. (Her ski trip is a riot.) David weighs in with flatulence at the base.
There are hyperemotional times when life (and death) seems overwhelming. And there are arguments, the reader reading both sides.
They also share ordinary moments that took on extraordinary meaning, such as the day Nancy realized she and David were living separate lives. 

Nancy has been a ghost writer and her writing skill shows. David's writing is informative but Nancy's is alive.

The Frenches certainly tell what life is like for the military family at this time of war.  It is a worthy book to read.

I received a copy of this book from Center Street for the purpose of this review.

Center Street, 259 pages.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for your review. I also read a review of this book on National Review Online.
In my work world, I work with active duty and discharged military and their dependents who are using the VA Education benefits.
In my personal world, I have lost a nephew to a sniper's bullet in Baghdad. My son is mere weeks away from going to RTC Great Lakes for Navy Basic training and his wife will be joining him when heads off to his additional training, leaving me a (new)Navy mom with an empty nest for the first time in 20+ years.

It this books is able to balance the home and away aspects of military service half as well as people have described, it should be mandatory reading for all, not just people with military connections.
Thank you for letting me comment.


The Buzz On! said...

I am so glad that a soldiers life is being shared on Fox and Friends. It is awesome that a husband and wife can talk about how ,military service/war affects them. Thank you!

Michael Barrett
Originally from Mt Juliet, TN